Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Zealand installs country-wide emergency system for deaf community

From 3 News in New Zealand:

In a world first, emergency services have launched a scheme to make it easier for people who are deaf or hearing impaired to contact them in an emergency.

Until today, New Zealanders who are hearing impaired and deaf have had to use a fax machine to make contact with 1 -1 -1.

“There's always been a delay in time, trying to find a way to make contact,” says Rachel Noble.

At midday a system was switched on which allows the seven thousand members of the hearing impaired and deaf community to text for help.

Only those who are registered can use the service and that person's details are loaded into a police database.

Deaf Aotearoa says text messaging has revolutionised the way hearing impaired and deaf people communicate.

New Zealand is the first country to offer the service.

The service is strictly limited to people who are deaf or hearing impaired. Police say speaking with an operator is still the quickest way to get help in an emergency.